Superfood Breakfast for Dieters: Oatmeal

Oats have been dubbed a “superfood” because of their multiple nutritional benefits:
* high in fiber
* low in sodium and sugar
* help lower cholesterol
* help lower blood pressure
* regulate blood sugar levels
* improve the immune system
* reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

If you must know, an oat is the seed of a cereal grain by the same name. “Oats” or “Oatmeal” are the standard names of the product we buy in the supermarket, but choosing the best one can be confusing due to the many adjectives prefixed to oat products – Steel cut / rolled / quick oats, etc.

Here is an explanation of the different types of oats:

Whole oats (groats or kernels) – the least processed of the oatmeal cereals, and require the longest amount of cooking. It isn’t very common to use these oats for cooking.

Steel cut / Irish / Scottish oats – These oats are cut, not rolled. They look like chopped up rice. They have a chewy, nutty consistency and take a long time to cook (15-60 minutes). They contain more fiber, protein, calcium and other minerals than other varieties of oats, but on the downside they do carry slightly more calories and fat.

Rolled / “old fashioned” oats – These look like flat little ovals. They are quicker to cook than steel cut oats, but slower than quick oats. Mueslis and granolas are usually made with rolled oats. (See picture).

Quick oats – similar to rolled oats, but have been cut before being steamed and flattened. They are relatively quick to cook, and are often used in breads and muffins. Nutritionally, quick oats are similar to rolled oats. However, they are digested more quickly, and may not keep you as full for a long time.

Instant oats – These are the fastest cooking oats, because they have been rolled into very thin pieces. While they are more convenient than other oats, you’ll often find them with added flavors and salt. They lose a lot of their nutrition content because of the high amount of processing they have undergone.

Oat flour – Oats are ground into a flour and can be really useful for anyone intolerant to wheat flour.

Oat bran – made from the outer layer of the oat kernel. Oat bran is very high in fiber and usually eaten as a hot cereal, or sprinkled on a cold cereal. It’s a great way to boost the fiber content of baked goods.

While there are differences between the various types of oats, they are all a nutritious and healthy choice. Assuming, that is, you use plain oats without added sugars and additives.

Try plain oatmeal for breakfast this week. You can add a touch of cinnamon, honey, or chopped fruits and nuts for a filling and nutritious meal.

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